Over the weekend, gullible moviegoers willingly tossed about $30 million at a movie in which grown men hurl red rubber balls at each other. They preferred this instead of contributing to an artful new Steven Spielberg film, starring Tom Hanks—a film that required the construction of a complete airport terminal. That film earned only $18.7 million, a shocking disappointment for the studio.
But rather than start by surveying reviews of the most popular film of the week, let's start with the one that's halfway decent.
"Just call him Foreign Gump," writes Bob Smithouser (Plugged In) about Viktor Navorski in his review of Steven Spielberg's new film The Terminal.
And he's right. The central character of this whimsical, inventive comedy is played by Tom Hanks and bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Gump in the way he brings a simple, good-natured wisdom to those he encounters during his long, long stay in New York's JFK airport. Hanks plays Viktor Navorski, a man from the imaginary nation of Krakhozia who, upon his arrival in the Big Apple, learns that his country has fallen into violent political turmoil. The Department of Homeland Security officer at JFK (Stanley Tucci) informs Viktor that it is illegal for him to set foot on American soil, and worse, he can't go home until Krakhozia stabilizes.
So Viktor, who knows only a few words of English, is forced to live on limited resources (echoing another Hanks film—Cast Away), required to wrestle with an unfair and insensitive superior (echoing another Hanks film—Philadelphia), and driven to learn about a large and confusing world that is far from anything he's experienced before (echoing, yes, Hanks' classic comedy Big). Before it's ...1
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